Celebrating Bugling Season

Estes Park celebrates the season at the Estes Park Elk Fest, featuring a bugling contest, beer gardens and more on October 1-2


A high-pitched tone from a male elk commonly known as a bugle can be heard as early as mid-September, marking the beginning of elk mating season. The rut, meaning mating season, is an exciting time for wildlife spotting in Estes Park. 

Elk make their presence known throughout the city and in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. The town of Estes Park hosts the Elk Fest as a way to educate visitors about the surrounding wildlife.


“The festival idea came from Kris and Gary Hazelton in 1999,” says Estes Park special events coordinator Julie Klett. With frequent visitors to the area, the need to enlighten travelers and protect the outdoors is a priority. The celebration works to make outdoor literacy fun.

“It’s important to bear in mind that elk are wild and unpredictable animals,” Klett warns. “The males can be especially territorial and aggressive during the rut as they protect their cows,” Klett recommends that wildlife encounters be enjoyed from a distance. “It’s the perfect time to utilize your zoom lens!”


Photo courtesy the Town of Estes Park

At the Elk Fest, visitors will enjoy festivities throughout the weekend. Native American cultural performances take place on the grounds, followed by a bugling contest for all ages. Food trucks, art displays and a beer garden create a well-rounded weekend of events for all folks to enjoy.

Perfectly timed with the leaves changing color, festival goers can enjoy scenic Rocky Mountain National Park with a timed entry permit. 


Categories: Events